Paschal Emeka, Abuja

It is generally acknowledged that countries that are regarded as developed have very strong and vibrant educational programmes that breed the highly skilled manpower that can propel the production capacity of their industries.

No country is today recognized in the international community without a highly reputable educational structure that constantly interacts with industry to ascertain the production challenges of such industries in the area of human capital development. Researches in those developed countries are structured and tailored at solving identified industrial problems for increased productivity.

In the highly developed and industrialized countries like Japan, Germany, United States of America, UK, among others, supply of goods and services has surpassed the level of subsistence and has reached the stage of constant exportation to the countries of need. This is because industries are linked to the academia which is regularly engaged in researches that are targeted at production of goods and services for economic development.

Highly rated and renowned academic research scholars in these countries, turn out a large number of patents from the National System of Innovation (NSI) which is further commercialized for economic benefits of both the researchers and their institutions. Some of these researches in the institutions of higher learning in these developed countries are actually on request by the industry to nip in the bud identified production challenges militating against the industry to improve their production capacity.

These countries devote three to five percent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to research and development. Serious attention is given to research so much so that government and even private companies and individuals establish dedicated research funds, whereby researchers can access funds to carry out researches.

According to a research report by Godie Blumenstyk, on the chronicle of higher education, captioned, “Universities Report $1.8 billion in Earning on inventions in 2011,” Western universities earned $1. 8 billion from commercializing their academic research in the 2011 fiscal year, collecting royalties from new breeds and wheal, from a new drug for the treatment of HIV, and from longstanding arrangements over enduring products like Gatorade.

Northwestern University earned the most of any institution reporting, with more than $191.million in licensing income.

In most developed countries, donor agencies and multinationals set aside funds to encourage researchers as a way of Corporate Social Responsibility and invite interested researchers to submit bankable research proposals and access funds for the purposes of solving certain identified societal challenges. A case study of such research funds established is the Tetfund established by the United Kingdom to assist researchers in Tertiary and research institutions to access funds to carry out researches in some areas like health and development challenges militating against the Third World countries.

However, in the continent of Africa, the situation is not the same as virtually all technical assistance required by the production industries are sought from the institutions of higher learning or research institutions from the developed countries.

While the developed countries devote the globally accepted percentage of their GDP to research and development activities, the developing countries like Nigeria, Ghana, Mali, Libya and Burkina Faso are devoting less than one percent of their GDP to research. No wonder in the global university ranking, no University from the above-mentioned countries with low research funding is among the top two hundred universities in the world ranking. This is the index of weakness and invisibility of universities from developing countries.

In the developing countries, universities, polytechnics and research institutions wait for yearly budgetary allocation that is never enough before they could pay salaries of workers, not to talk of generating funds that could sustain some demand-driven researches needed to carry out by the institutions.

This simply suggests that our knowledge infrastructure is obviously weak and should be strengthened through restructuring of our academic curriculum to imbibe in the students the culture of entrepreneurship that will propel the socio-economic strength of the country.

Highly rated and renowned academic research scholars in developed countries, turn out a large number of Patents from the National System of Innovation (NSI) are further commercialized for economic benefits of both the researchers and their institutions. In developing countries, Research and Development (R&D) results from our NSI end up on the shelves because they are not structured at solving industrial challenges and therefore, meet no immediate human needs.

In order to bridge the gap between the academia and the industry, the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP) has evolved a number of lofty collaborative programmes to ensure that the academia not only talks to the industry, but also evolved a highly potent industry-driven researches through a programme known as “Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer Offices (IPTTO) in some Nigerian universities, polytechnics and research institutions”. The four pilot IPTTOs were established by NOTAP in collaboration with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in 2004 and since then, NOTAP has continued to expand the programme to more Nigerian tertiary institutions with the intention of covering all government established universities.

In continuation of this drive, NOTAP has established over 40 IPTTOs in some selected Nigerian universities, polytechnics and research Institutions to re-awaken the Nigerian researchers to inculcate the culture of demand-driven researches as against conventional researches that are just for academic purposes.

This linkage between academia and industry has also necessitated the evolution of a ‘catch them young’ pragramme of NOTAP, whereby companies provided pictorial step by step product production processes for learning in primary and secondary schools in Nigeria. This project is to develop the interest of Nigeria pupils in science and technology, which is key to socio-economic development of any nation.

As it is obtained in the developed countries, some multinational companies operating in the country in order to strengthen the link and also ensure that some industrial problems can be solved by the Nigerian researchers, devoted some funds for sponsorships of some Nigerians who are ready and willing to go into Ph.D programmes in the country.

The frontline posture by NOTAP in linking academia with the industry no doubt has started yielding positive results as some Nigerian universities recently got some financial assistance to upgrade their research laboratories to facilitate researches and come out with solutions to human challenges.

It is recommended that the Federal Government of Nigeria should make a policy that all production industries in the country should synergize with the academia to ensure that research output from universities are deployed into the industry.

Industries operating in the country should make it a point of duty/policy to engage research scholars in Nigerian universities to research into some production challenges militating against the industry. This is a sure way of improving the indigenous skills within the academia and at the same time, increase the GDP of the country as companies operating in the country now spend their earnings in the country instead of paying expatriates with its attendant cause of capital flight. 

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